Boney James Comes to Mayo Performing Arts Center 4/12
Four-time Grammy nominee Boney James brings his Honestly tour to Mayo Performing Arts Center on Thursday, April 12 at 8 pm. Tickets are $29-$69.
It's been a full quarter-century since a young saxophonist and composer released his debut recording as a leader, Trust. Last year, Boney James released his 16th album, this one titled Honestly. If you sense a direct line between those titles, you've already come a long way toward understanding what motivates the four-time GRAMMY nominee and multi-platinum-selling musician.
"I'm fighting the good fight to be my own artist and not be pigeonholed," says the genre-blurring James. "With a record's title I always try to find something that will communicate the feeling I get when I listen to it. The feeling I get with this music is a sense of sincerity and intimacy. The word 'honestly' really reflects how I aspire to live my life and create my music. One of the great things about music is how powerful it is. It can totally transport people. These are interesting times we are living in and the one thing I can do with the skills that I have is to make music that evokes a feeling and takes people somewhere. to do what I can to try and make the world a more pleasant place."
Honestly follows futuresoul, James' 2015 release which spent eleven weeks at #1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. James plays all of the tenor and soprano saxophone parts on Honestly and contributes keyboards and drum programming to several of the tracks. But his career might have turned out a lot differently had a music store in his native New Rochelle, New York, had his first choice in stock the day he walked inside. "I wanted to play trumpet but when we went to the store to rent a trumpet all they had were clarinets, so I went home with a clarinet. Two years later I guess I was the best clarinet player in a band full of clarinets and the teacher wanted a sax player so he leaned on me to pick up the saxophone. I didn't want to do it because it was a much heavier case I'd have to carry. But as soon as I switched I loved it and it pretty quickly became my favorite thing to do. It still is!"
By the time he entered his teens, James was gigging with bands, and he turned pro at 19. He apprenticed as a sideman for artists like Morris Day and the Isley Brothers, picking up pointers on how to present himself onstage and off, and didn't cut his first album under his own name until he was 30. The independently released Trust led immediately to a major label deal and a string of increasingly successful recordings and live dates.
Over the years, James has racked up sales of more than three million records, four RIAA gold albums, four GRAMMY nominations, a Soul Train Award, nominations for two NAACP Image Awards and 10 CDs atop Billboard's Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. In 2009, Billboard named him one of the Top 3 Contemporary Jazz Artists Of The Decade along with Kenny G and Norah Jones.
With Honestly, as with futuresoul and the GRAMMY-nominated The Beat before it, Boney James is making some of the most stellar, wholly realized music of his career. "I've just grown up, personally and musically," he says. "I'm a lot calmer now when I approach making music and have more confidence. I'm a 'give-110 percent' kind of person and I'm enjoying the process more now. I think that comes out in the music. Maybe that's why this new record is so much fun to listen to. There are parts on the record that still make me smile."